On a youth retreat several years ago I used various passages from Psalms to help the group recognize the importance of remembering. While the Hebrew people were wandering in the wilderness, when they were displaced from their homeland, they remembered. They remembered that God never failed them. They recounted the stories — the places and the people. They reminded themselves that this isn’t the end of the story — that God will have the last word, which means redemption has the last word. They needed to remember in order to move forward.
I felt like this was important learning for that group — for any group, really. But for teens, in particular, they need to know that it won’t always be this way. By reading the litanies of remembrance from Psalms, we could create our own litanies, our own lists of reminders that it won’t always be this way — that we won’t always be walking through the wilderness.
The theme for Advent 3 of Jan Richardson’s retreat is “Repairing the Ruins.”
After reading today’s reflection, I wrote down “remember and repair.”
She asks the question, What hope do you carry that inspires the repair and gives you a vision of what the brokenness could become?
I answered it before I knew the question… remember and repair.
Just like the Hebrew people did, I too need to look back and remember. I need to write my own litany to remind myself that it won’t always be this way.
I think my journey in the wilderness with infertility is probably the most challenging journey to date. Perhaps it’s best that way. I didn’t have the wisdom, resources or strength to encounter this journey 10 or 15 years ago. Each journey has prepared me for the next to come. I’ll admit — I’m now feeling a bit anxious about what this journey, this current walk through the wilderness is preparing me for… but I don’t have the time or energy to worry about what is to come, today is enough.
I’ve been through wilderness experiences that started out full of exhaustion and hopelessness. Some took weeks, months, years to walk through. But, I eventually found myself walking out of the wilderness with stronger legs, a clearer mind and a more compassionate heart. In remembering those experiences, I recall the repair, the restoration, the redemption.
I have felt broken and torn apart, but by giving myself space to listen, rest and be, healing took place. I’ve learned that avoiding the pain, finding alternate routes to get around the wilderness, looking for the fast pass through healing doesn’t work. It may provide a band-aid, but it always falls off and the wound is still there. So, the hope I carry this Advent, the hope that inspires repair and gives me a vision of what’s to come… is the walk through the wilderness that I’ve journeyed the past two years. I’ve gone through the bramble and the tall, vine-y weeds. I’ve walked in the dark when there was barely room to get through the tightly packed forest. I’ve wandered through the desolate desert with no protection from the sun. I’ve put one foot in front of the other over and over and over and over again. I walked straight toward the grief and then I invited grief to walk with me, hand in hand. There’s been no avoiding on this wilderness journey. It’s been hard, really hard, but as with any hard work, I’m getting stronger day by day.
Remember and repair. Remember and be thankful.